New Jersey’s 12th legislative district, which includes of much of Monmouth County and a small portion of Mercer County (map), won’t be part of a pilot program to test an expermental approach to financing “clean elections” in November.


A special state panel headed by former Gov. Jim Florio yesterday chose the 14th district, which covers parts of Mercer and Middlesex counties, as the third of three venues for the test, whereby candidates who agree to raise set amounts of campaign cash in small increments will get state aid.

The aim is to minimize the big-money influence of special interests.

Previously, one solidly Democratic district and one solidly Republican one had been chosen. The 14th was chosen by the panel, in a 3-2 vote criticized by Republicans, as a model for a “split district.”

The choice disappointed Red Bank’s Jennifer Beck, the 12th-district Assembly Republican who said the district “would have been ideal because so much special interest money has been poured into the district in the past,” according to the Asbury Park Press.

The decision was “as expected,” Beck told PoliticsNJ.com

Beck is running for state Senate, taking on incumbent Democrat Sen. Ellen Karcher. That leaves Democrat Michael Panter of Shrewsbury as the only incumbent among the district’s four Assembly candidates.

Here’s some background on the experiment from today’s Star-Ledger:

The special selection committee was formed because legislative leaders could not reach bipartisan agreement on which “competitive” district would serve as a testing ground in the Nov. 6 general election. Democrats wanted the 14th District and Republicans the 12th District.

Senate and Assembly candi dates in the districts can be certi fied as “clean elections” candidates by raising up to $10,000 each in seed money, with all donations coming from individuals in amounts of $500 or less.

Candidates would then be re quired to collect 800 donations of no more than $10. Collecting 800 donations of up to $10 each would qualify a candidate for the full $100,000 in clean election funds.

The state’s first experiment with public financing in two safe districts — the Democratic 6th District in Camden County and the Republican 13th District in Mon mouth and Middlesex counties — during the 2005 election failed.

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